Memories of growing up in Lambourn and Upper Lambourn

Thanks to Leslie Nash and Mick Dowdeswell for sharing their memories of Lambourn and Upper Lambourn

Les was born in 1929 and grew up in Upper Lambourn. He now lives in Basingstoke and has shared his memories via email with Rachel Carden for Penny Post

Les is older brother to John Nash who still lives in Lambourn and worked for Barry Hills for 32 years.


Les Nash, 91

Mick Dowdeswell was born in 1940 and grew up in Lambourn and has provided some archive photographs and his own slightly later memories. 

He moved to Upper Lambourn with his wife in 1968 where they stayed until they moved back down to Lambourn in 1993 and have been there ever since.

Mick Dowdeswell, 80

Memories of Leslie Nash (born in 1929)

I was born in Saxon Cottages, Upper Lambourn, in 1929, one of six children. Our parents rented a cottage for 10 shillings a week and my father was the local handy man; he dug the graves in Upper Lambourn cemetery, swept chimneys and would also retrieve buckets from the wells! He was also sent to Gosport docks to help build concrete barges which were used on D-Day.

We lived in the cottage for three years, and I can recall the names of our neighbours were Shermans, Chilvers, Wilkins, Freefths and Jordans. The landlord of The Malt Shovel was ‘Titch’ Wood (see below),  and that they had the only telephone in the area, so all the locals would take their 2 pence and ask them to ring for the doctor, Dr Morrison whose surgery was in Goose Green, Lambourn. 

Another local family were the Claytons, Mr Clayton’s nickname being London. His daughter, Betty, married Henry Smith, whose parents were the licencees of The Red Lion. The village Chemist, Mr Lasham, had his business premises were in his home, in the property now known as Broadway House. I also remember the village vicar, Rev Gotto. 

After three years we moved to No 3, a council house just down from St Luke’s Church, Upper Lambourn. As a 7/8 year old, I oftened walked to White Horse Hill via Ashbury, and would be away from home for 7 hours at a stretch taking provisions of tea and sandwiches, and I never had any problems. I went to school in the village, and remember that.the Big School had outside toilets In middle of the play ground. Then of course, the cane was in use by Mr Clark, and you’d never meet a sterner person than Miss Day!

I seem to remember that the wife of a local trainer could swear for 20 minutes and not use the same cuss twice!  And a skeleton was found down a well in a neighbouring property, which caused much ado.

Another exciting highlight was that at 16, I was allowed to catch the 2 o’clock train to Newbury and the 10 o’clock train back home. 

I remember Lambourn people were very generous at that time, there were always parties at Christmas time given by the Buffs at a hall in the High Street opposite the Lambourn Garages. 

Speaking of the Garages, the man that designed the horse box only ever had one shirt and when it fell to pieces he would buy another! And another character was a Mr Dancey who lived up at Sheepdrove, and who had a chicken farm. He always had a boot full of live chickens and if you asked for one he would kill one and partly pluck it right there and then for you!

When I left school, I spent my first working year at Lambourn Post Office where Mr Payne was post master, then worked for Mr Harry Whitman, horse trainer at Park Farm for 2 years. Then I worked for Theo Harris’ plumbing company until I married a Kingsclere girl and moved from the family home in Honey Hill, to Basingstoke, where I started my own plumbing and heating company. 

Now 91years old I am still doing odd jobs of heating repairs! And I have two children – Jennifer and Stephen.

Titch Wood

Upper Lambourn FC in 1924 when they won a cup!

Titch Wood is the bald chap in the middle row.

From top: 

Stan Rodbourne, Jack Everest, Dick Radbourne,

Arthur Goddard, Arnie (Mick) Westlake, Jack Mildenhall, Oliver Cannings, Titch Wood , Benny Wilkinds, Darkie Leatham

Ted Meredith, Johnnie Lane, Josh Corney


Titch went on to train for Mr. J.A. De Rothschild at Waltham House Stables (now Lethornes) from 1940 to 1946.

In this photo he is with a soldier from  Co I of the US 501st PIR who were stationed there.

Lambourn School

Lambourn School Opening circa 1930

Miss Hettie Day on the left, and Mr. Clark up on the right. 

Mick’s mother Betty Austen (left, front row) remembered a song about him: 

“Mr. Clark is a very fine man, 
but he likes to cane us,
as much as he can!”


This 1934 photo from Lambourn School includes Les’s older brother Ted Nash (front row, second from the left) who died about 18 year ago.

Memories of Mick Dowdeswell (born in 1940)

In 1968, we lived at No.6 Upper Lambourn (later, the row was called Lynchets View, due to the lynchets just along the road towards Ashbury; on the left). Having bought the house, we lived there for 25 years, until coming down to Big Lane in Lambourn. Harry (I think) Whiteman, was at Park Farm, training, from 1945 until 1955. He had been at Russley Park, near Baydon, from 1940 until 1945.

The Wilkins family lived along the lane from the Malt Shovel and daughter Ann, lives in Derby Close, Lambourn. She was a Land Army girl here during the war.

I remember the Freeth family. They lived in a thatched cottage at the top end of Upper Lambourn at one time, where Frenchman’s Yard is these days. I knew Bob Freeth and he had a sister called Doreen. Sadly, Bob got knocked down and killed one night, while walking along the East Garston to Shefford road.

I remember Peter Rodgers running the Malt Shovel and he left to take on the Pack Horse pub near Rowstock. Tommy and Diane Deary then ran The Malt for many years.

We knew Henry and Betty Smith. Their son, ‘Bunny’ worked at Brown & Warren’s garage for some time and they lived down in the Woodbury estate. Some years ago, they left Lambourn, and took on a pub called, I think, The ‘who’d have thought It’, somewhere down in the East Kennet area, west of Marlborough. We went to see them once, may years ago, but sadly, we have not heard anything about them since then. I can’t remember the village exactly, where they, or we, went to.

The Dancey family still farm at Sheepdrove. Andrew is a very good ploughman, using a ‘Fergie’ and we have always seen him at the ploughing matches throughout this area and into Oxfordshire. Sadly, not this year though, as they have all been cancelled.

The earliest chemists I recall were the Packwoods and definitely the Hadrells, as my wife and I used to babysit for them when they went out. Dr. Morison was my doctor and I remember him well, as anybody from that time, certainly would.

My dad, Jack, served his time under Ted Gwilt at Saxon House stables, from 1931 until 1936, when he then went to Aldbourne at Hightown Stables for Capt. Bay Powell and soon became first jockey there, before and after the war, when he was Champion jockey in the 1946/47 season. He died in 2011, aged 94.

My mother (nee Betty Austen) was born in Lambourn, in 1920; she went to school at the ‘little school’ and then went to the ‘Big School’ when it opened in about 1930. She lived all her life in Lambourn and Upper lambourn and died on Christmas Day morning in 2015, aged 95.


One Response

  1. I was interested to hear Les Nash’s account as my mother, Elsie Froude, was born in Lambourn in 1931. She lived with her mother, Clarissa Ann Froude, née Bedding, at The Firs ,Sheepdrove in the’30s.She had a brother, Richard (Dickie)John Froude who was born in 1938. Sadly he died at the age of 6 in 1944. My mother’s father remains somewhat of a mystery. I think he was born in 1893,Richard W Froude, and perhaps died in 1939. My sister and I have always been intrigued about him!
    We are both living in North Yorkshire and our in our sixties, although I lived in Reading from 1985-2002.
    I wonder if anyone remembers any of my family!

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